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Opening Doors to Sales with Case Studies and References

Case Studies
 
Rob Cullum

Connecting with your target customer is a key element of sales and marketing. One effective way to do this is to highlight how your company’s offering has been and can be utilised – ideally in an area similar to that of the target customer.

Making the sales process smooth for both seller and buyer takes specialist knowledge and some vital sales tools – a prominent example being case studies and testimonials from like-minded customers. In this article we explore how case studies, references and solution examples can be effectively utilised and how to obtain them.

The strength of customer endorsement

The power of good references and recommendation hasn’t diminished over the years, indeed for some businesses their current customers’ seal of approval remains the primary source of new business. This needs to be considered across the marketing mix so that at each stage of the sales process, your potential customer can be reassured by a like-minded decisionmaker who shares similar challenges, requirements and expectations.

Case studies deliver trust and increase value

Strong recommendations from influential sources can, in fact, inspire your target customers with a level of trust in your business before they experience anything more than a visit to your website. This adds value to your offering and can even mean that customers are willing to pay more for your product or service in order to deal with you, rather than your less strongly-recommended competitors.

Effectively utilising these ‘trust-gaining’ tools for generating business

Gone are the days of simply sending out a press release. Yes, we would still recommend that, but there are now countless platforms on which you can display your customer case studies – here are some examples:

  • Press releases
  • Website
  • SEO / AdWords
  • Social media / sponsored posts
  • Video
  • Guest speaker at events
  • Collateral
  • Exhibitions
  • Lead-generation campaigns

The impact of a customer case study is so powerful that it can form the central point of a lead generation campaign. With a highly targeted recipient list, a multi-channel campaign incorporating website, email, sponsored social media posts and follow up sales calls can result in an influx of new business.

How to obtain case studies and references

To most, the simple effectiveness of customer endorsement is clear. But the effort, time and expense of obtaining a written case study and approval from all stakeholders, not to mention adapting it for marketing use, means that this powerful tool can drop to the bottom of the to-do list. The following infographic outlines some clever ways to get hold of, display and promote current customer approval without a lot of fuss and bother.

Keep it in the Conversation

Keep it in the Conversation

Get your customer-facing people talking with customers about case study scenarios early on. “we would love you to be a case study for us one day!” make it sound natural; it’s just a part of the process.
Keep it Hassle-Free

Keep it
Hassle-Free

Taking the time and effort out of the equation can be very effective. Target a receptive senior decisionmaker so that approval will be kept to one person. Offer to draft the case study for them, handing it over for editing, amendments or sign off before publication.
Make it Official

Make it
Official

Common practice in the technology world is to have a section dedicated to customer case studies in the sales contract. Nothing tricky here, perhaps just securing use of their company name and logo.
Add it to the Sales Process

Add it to the
Sales Process

If you have a CRM system, why not add a case study task automatically to the sales process? It would help keep it in the mind of internal sales teams.
 

Would your customer go to another level?

What’s the ultimate case study? An existing customer that is happy to demonstrate to prospect customers at their premises their (your…)  solution in action. This is no longer a scripted and multi-level approved case study video or press release – it is live. The prospect customer has the chance to control the questions and this level of access could install a significant amount of confidence in your business and its offerings.

Alternatives to case studies – are there easier options?

Case studies with a customer name, solution and named quotes are excellent for customer acquisition but they are not always obtainable. They can be expensive and time-consuming to obtain, usually with a lengthy approval process. In-depth case studies are not your only option. There are alternatives that can break through road blocks and get the message out there quickly:

  • Anonymous case studies
    In many industries it is understood that the end customer may not be able to state their name, but that doesn’t mean you can’t capitalise on the opportunity; un-named case studies are still useful tools.
  • Customer name and logo
    The customer may be happy for you to utilise their name and logo even if they would not approve a full named case study – using this name / logo on your website and in presentations is still a great tool to have.
  • Scenario case study
    Industry specific examples / solutions specific examples – written as if used in the real world, but fictitious. These can still help the potential customer relate to the scenario and open up an opportunity.

There are many ways to get around the challenges of obtaining, processing and promoting customer endorsement and hopefully this blog has shown that it doesn’t have to come with a lot of time and fuss. Case studies and testimonials are still vital tools for generating new business and are worth the investment. Talk to Motion Marketing to find out how we can help.

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